Yesterday was sales conference day for Peace Hill Press, which means that I’m in New York. I don’t have any great photos this trip, but here’s the view out my window this morning:

(It’s kind of a grey day.)

During sales conference, I’m not in New York as an author; I’m here as a publisher with books to promote.

Most small presses have a distributor–a middle man who shops the books to the bookstores for us and takes a commission off the top. We can’t possibly make contact with all the independent bookstores out there–and in fact independent bookstores can’t possibly meet with all the small press publishers separately to evaluate the books. Who has the time? The major chains don’t deal directly with small presses either. Neither do libraries.

If you publish books for home educators, you can sell directly to your customers and through home education catalogs such as Rainbow. You can also deal with Amazon directly (although that’s a royal pain). But if you want to get your books out into the bookstores where most readers shop–non speciality bookstores–you need a distributor.

Norton, a little unusually, is both a publisher of its own books and a distributor for a number of small presses, including New Directions, Verso, Thames & Hudson, and Peace Hill Press. (Every time I look at this list, I feel like I want to sing, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things is not the same…”)

Twice a year, Norton holds sales conference; the reps who actually go out and sell the books in Colorado and Texas and Washington and Arizona (etc.) all come to New York and get briefed on upcoming titles. Norton editors present Norton titles for the first two days, and then the affiliate publishers get their turn.

Most publishers do two catalogs a year–a spring-summer catalog, and a separate fall-winter catalog–but Peace Hill Press is small enough so that we’ve decided to only publish our titles in the fall and winter. That way we only have the expense and trouble of producing one catalog per year, and our books are available in the spring (the biggest selling season for home school books).

My half hour to present the Peace Hill Press Fall/Winter 2010 catalog came on Thursday. Right after lunch on the last day of the conference. I expect the reps were, at that point, hemorrhaging brain cells out of their ears, after four straight days of listening to editors and publishers hawk their books. So I consider it a personal favor that they all looked awake and interested.

We have five new titles this year. Two of them are a revision of First Language Lessons, Levels 1/2, which we’ve divided into two.

I’m excited about how the books look–we’ve clarified the lessons and improved the typesetting.

Old page:

New page:

and we’ve replaced the old pictures for the picture lessons with pencil drawings of classic paintings.

The other three new books on our list are still a secret. You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out more.

I also took to sales conference a brochure we’ve made up for bookstores that want to attract home educators. If you’d like to have a look at it, you can view it here: HS_BOOKSTORE

I think a lot of bookstore owners underestimate how happy home schoolers would be to shop at a local store. In fact, if you’d like to hand one of these brochures to your local bookstore manager, let us know and we’ll get you a copy. (You can email the webmaster at

And now, finally, heading home. Another home school conference next weekend (it’s the busy season) so I’m looking forward to a quiet week on the farm.

That’s probably just ASKING for a tornado or tsunami or plague of locusts to hit us.

Showing 8 comments
  • Heather

    I’m so glad that you split FLL 1/2 into two books and I can’t wait to see the new titles. 🙂

    I love the brochure. Have you though of making on up for libraries? I’d love to be able to print it and take it to my librarian.

  • Alia

    But if you keep the other two a secret how can we PLAN AHEAD to use them this coming fall?! lol!

  • TaraTheLiberator

    I see that Amazon has the new FLL 1 and 2 listed for pre-sale. When will these be available?

  • dawn

    Oh, I’m excited about updates to FLL 1/2! I’m having a hard time seeing the pictures here, anywhere else to find them?

  • susan t

    The brochure is terrific! I think you’ve covered everything… i.e. paraphrasing here – “don’t have erotica at the child’s eyelevel near the homeschool books”… or popular/noisy toys nearby…” I am going to follow the link and have a few sent my way for the “big box” bookstores and the library. Thank you so much!

  • Sebastian (a lady)

    Our Navy Exchange had several of your books before Christmas. I sent them a nice compliment on having homeschooling books in general and your books (both PHP and Norton titles) in particular and got a very nice reply. But even better, they started carrying even more books that were useful for homeschooling and brought in a few more of your books.
    They’re running low again, so it must be time for another comment.
    It is so much better to be able to actually flip through a book and think, yeah, that could work, than to have to buy it on the basis of one or two screen shots.

  • Mary

    I’m looking forward to the new titles! We’re starting your writing program in the fall and I’m very excited about it! I’m also looking forward to the upcoming homeschool convention in Springfield, MO next weekend. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to hear your lectures! My 7 year old son is insisting he be allowed to go to one session so he can possibly get his picture taken with “the lady who wrote my history book.” Have a restful, tornado/tsunami/plague-free week at home!

  • Susan in TX

    FWIW, I was in Louisville, KY last week and stopped by a Border’s Bookstore. I spotted a copy of History of the Medieval World in the history section from a LONG way away because they had it cover-facing-out. Just thought you would appreciate that. 🙂

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